Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quixote - Quihotee

Heard "In our Time" episode about Don Quixote. Bragg, quite resolute, stuck to the English pronounciation of Quixote.

So its not just the English inability to pronounce some names [like that of the talapatra which turned to talpot] but also a refusal to change because now we have adjectives like quixotic. I thought it was thoroughly amusing.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pick and choose

While teasing RS about his hourly poll of orkut, I exclaimed with much air of wisdom and condescension - "Ah mating games, they never change". But when I think about it, they have changed.

No more a sudden quote from Santayana or a humming of a few bars from Figaro that subtly hints at a specific taste, no more the thrill of exploration and the joy of the unexpected. Now, we have folks with neat definitions in a blatant board around their neck, conveniently categorized and packaged with appropriate endorsements.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kodak moment

RR wanted to celebrate his sister's birthday. For some reason I don't remember now, [this was when we were in college together], no one else was there. So he had insisted, cajoled, demanded that four of us should show up at such and such time at such and such place.

We went late. He must have waited for long and must have left. Feeling terribly guilty we decided to find the place. After some tense moments, we arrived right when she was about to blow the candle with only her brother.

There was an expression on his face - relief, joy, anger everything warring and for once he didn't say anything.

Yesterday, he was waiting to pick me up in the railway station as I arrived for yet another function connected to his sister. I reminded him of this.


Traveled to Tiruppur and back. One of India's fastest growing cities. If they'd only fix the roads before it became a nightmare like Bangalore.

Caught the early morning train. Instead of a chair car that could accommodate 75 people or so, there was a three tier sleeper that could fit 65. Needless to say there were a bunch of unhappy people. One man asked in a very frustrated tone, "Is there a way I can get back to Railway and screw someone's happiness?" I thought the tall TTC, aided by some cancellations did as best a job as he could.

Two Americans were traveling in the next bay. From my side berth vantage point, I could see a man, from kerala, talking to them. They were munching a lot of goodies and were constantly giving him whatever they were eating. Pringles, chocolates, some kind of nuts. 'Smell it', one American insisted. They were getting quite chummy, smiling, laughing, learning tamil words and of course eating.

After about a couple of hours, out came the huge book - The holy Bible. I couldn't quite hear what was being said, but could easily make out what the pitch was. The Keralite got very unhappy and tensed, I could see from his face.

The American was turning pages pointing to verses from Mathew and Luke and the Indian was answering in very animated gestures. "I am M.Sc Physics", "Do you know who Krishna is?", "I am not afraid of being in Misery" were words that floated towards me escaping the drowning train noise. After a while the conversation ceased with both parties retreating back further into their seats. The American's smile was gone. Neither of them met my eyes after that. [They were smiling at me before]

What I was curious about was were the snacks part of the script or natural Christian charity?

An interesting footnote is the other American started talking to another Indian in the same coach couple of bays away within a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Read a couple of books. Harold pinter's 'Other places'. He has an unexpectedly simple, strong style with no gimmicks. Alaska was quite intense. The other two were equally powerful but elusive to my limited brain capacity.

The other one was Heyer's Sylvester. Heyer is marvelous. The best author to curl up with after a hard day's work.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Was in chennai over the weekend. Hot. Went to Ramakrishna Mutt. I was surprised how much similar to a church the architecture was. There was even a poor imitation of a stained glass painting. Bought a couple of books in the bookshop.

People often tell me how peaceful it is, but I feel very detached when I visit places such as these. I had the same feeling in Ramanashram. I become very outward noticing people, noticing the place etc., more than normal. Strange.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Protests and rockets

Time of India carried an article on the first rocket launch in anticipation of the nuclear deal between US and India. A fantastic photograph by Henri Cartier Bresson of a rocket cone being wheeled into Thumba in a bicycle adorned the front page. Reading about the young scientists giving a fresh coat of paint to the rocket just before it blasted off, someone scraping something off so the payload would fit in, the difficulties of synchronizing the timing with a four way conference call was so interesting. It catches ones imagination so much. Kalam was then a young man working for Sarabhai. Why do we not have personalities like Sarabhai anymore?

And Bush arrived yesterday. It looks like everyone turned up for the protest. I'd like to do a survey of the economics related to the protestors. How many are rich? How many are professional protestors [that is belonging to a political party and thus expenses taken care of]? How many lost money because of this? How many gained money because of this?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Art - India

I am very intrigued by the lack of Indian artists till the late nineteenth century, of the calibre of the western ones. We have our Ajanta or Chithannavasal from fifth century. We have our various schools like mysore painting, tanjore painting, mughal paintings etc. But not in the likes of western art that is fueled by the imagination and improvements of individual artists till the modern era.

I wonder if anyone has researched the reason for this. We had techniques. One cannot say its simply a lack of individualism - We have individual marks in music and literature. But not any major Indian artists till perhaps Ravi Varma came into the picture?